Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reading in the Dark

When I was younger, I was an avid reader. Every time my mother looked at me, I had another book in my hand. Even though she liked that I was reading so much, she always worried that reading would damage my eyes, especially since I enjoyed reading in the dark so often. So every time she caught me reading with a flashlight after bedtime, she would yell at me to turn it off, lest I destroy my eyesight.
I believed her for the longest time. It made sense to me that the eyestrain would cause my eyesight to deteriorate with time, so even though I liked reading in the dark, I would do it less and less, heeding my mother's warnings. I already had to wear strong prescription lenses, and I didn't want to worsen my condition.
Although reading in the dark does strain the eyes, research has shown that it doesn't cause permanent damage to the eyes. The lighting only makes it harder to focus, making it uncomfortalbe, but it doesn't actually do harm to the eyes. In dim lighting, the words on the page may not be as clear, forcing you to pull the book closer to your face. The eyes have to adjust as a result. People report having headaches and nausea after reading in the dark, although it is caused more by staring at something too closely rather than the lighting itself. Our eyes change shape and adjust so that the change in lighting doesn't harm our resilient eyes. My mom still insists that reading in the dark is ruining my eyes, but I just let her believe what she wants. I am still careful about straining my eyes, but I still enjoy reading in the dark sometimes.

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